About Us

Lilian Brislen headshot

LILIAN BRISLEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Lilian is The Food Connection’s founding executive director and is responsible for crafting the center’s strategic vision and the implementation of our programing. As a Rural Sociologist, Dr. Brislen’s research focuses on “Agriculture of the Middle”, or mid-sized family farms and the food systems that support them. She also works with our dining partner and other stakeholders to identify best practices for farm to institution procurement (aka local food on campus), and the development wholesale value chains for Kentucky farm-sourced products. Lilian teaches courses on food systems at the undergraduate and graduate level, and mentors students interested in discovering careers in food systems. Her favorite Kentucky-grown food is Bill Best’s heirloom tomatoes, and her favorite farm tool is a scuffle hoe.


Krista Jacobsen headshot

KRISTA JACOBSEN

FACULTY CHAIR

Krista is an associate professor in the Horticulture Department and directs the Sustainable Agriculture and Community Food Systems (SAG) undergraduate program. In her time at The Food Connection, she coordinates the Student Opportunity Grant program, assists with grant writing, event planning, and food systems research activities. Outside of the Food Connection, Krista’s research is focused on soil health and nutrient cycling in organic vegetable systems, and she dabbles a bit in local wheat and other small grains. She teaches introductory and upper-level courses in the SAG program, and an occasional study abroad to Indonesia. Her favorite Kentucky-grown food is a freshly dug carrot, and her favorite farm tool is a BCS walk-behind tractor.

Tanya Whitehouse Headshot

TANYA WHITEHOUSE

LEARNING KITCHEN PROGRAM MANAGER

Chef Tanya is both the heart and brains of our culinary programing. As the former Sous Chef of Holly Hill Inn for Ouita Michel, she brings both her culinary expertise and a passion for Kentucky-grown foods to our programing. You’ll find her both in our learning kitchen and out in the community inviting students and professionals, children and adults to gain new skills, explore new flavors, and enjoy new experiences. Chef Tanya passionately believes that we are inexorably tied to what we eat and that sitting down to a meal together can connect you with other people in a way nothing else can. Tanya’s favorite Kentucky food is her grandma’s recipe for ketchup, and her favorite tool is her 10” chef’s knife. Tanya leads a number of programs for our community members throughout the year.


Bryan Brady family

BRYAN BRADY

CULTIVATE KY SENIOR EXTENSION ASSOCIATE

Bryan is our expert in the field… literally. Through his work with our Cultivate Kentucky Partnership, he works directly with specialty crop producers and local food aggregators (e.g. Food Hubs and Produce Auctions), providing technical assistance and education on food safety (GAP, FSMA), quality management, and general wholesale readiness. Bryan helps farmers find cost-effective solutions to entering the local wholesale marketplace and connects them with resources to support them on that journey. Bryan’s favorite Kentucky food is a crusty loaf of bread from Kentucky-grown wheat, and his favorite tool is an instant read thermometer.